5. Sicily: Mount Etna 4x4 Jeep Tour with Lava Caves & Forests
2002 Lava front.
The first visit is the 2002 lava flow, reachable by jeep through a winding dirt road surrounded by chestnut and oak forests. The 2002 eruption lasted from October 27th to January 29th 2003 and it is considered one of the most explosive eruptions of the past one hundred years
Continuing our excursion we will reach the Ragabo pine forest where hidden among pines and brooms, we will discover the cave of Corruccio (1350 meters above sea level) a cave formed by flowing lava.
Later, driving up along the Mareneve road we will reach Piano Provenzana (1800 meters above sea level), a ski resort, theater of the great eruption of 2002. After enjoying an excellent espresso, we will take a short walk to visit the ruins of the hotel Le Betulle destroyed by a molten lava flow.
Our tour continues with a short walk to some of the side craters, the Sartorius Mountains (1700 meters above sea level), formed in the year 1865 and characterized by seven small, aligned eruptive cones (or "buttonholes"). This area holds great geological and botanical treasures, and our tour winds along clearings rich in endemic species, large volcanic “bombs” and woodlands dominated by birch trees (Betula Aetnensis). Halfway down from the top of one of the craters, one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Ionian coast, from Riposto to Taormina, the Calabrian coast, the North-East Crater (3350 meters above sea level), the impressive dark lava formations of 2002 and the eruptive mouths (2000 meters above sea level), near the tourist resort of Piano Provenzana.
Traveling through one of the wine roads of Sicily and crossing large expanses of vineyards (Etna D.O.C.), we
will arrive at a local restaurant. This is the ideal place to enjoy relaxing moments surrounded by nature while
sampling local cuisine and excellent wines. (Lunch not included)
In the afternoon we will discover a unique canyon comprised of basaltic lava (the “Alcantara” Gorges) and
shaped by the waters of the Alcantara river. The Alcantara's vertical cliffs reach 30 meters in height and its
structures have been forged by high intensity geological and geothermal events. In prehistoric times, a river
flowed here over clay sediments until a massive volcanic eruption channeled magma into the river bed forming
the current canyons. After this stop, we end our memorable day and return to town.